EVERYBODY NOT SATISFIED
The recent suffrage debate seems to have left some dissatisfaction among the pro’s as is evidenced by the very readable contribution of “A Suffragist” in last Saturday’s Staff.
If “Suffragist” finds nothing convincing in the arguments of the winners, is not her insinuation concerning the quality of argument advanced by her sister suffragists rather cruel? This insinuation is given more definiteness by the efforts of “Suffragist” to bolster up the “lost cause.” Would it not have been more merciful to the losing debaters, as well as more enlightening to the nearly one hundred deceived listeners-deceived by the ratio of two to one-had “Suffragist” come to the defense of the “cause” in the person of one or both of the debaters?
It is encouraging to hear “Suffragist say, “I’m not up on feminism-but I will investigate the subject, because if half of me is feminist I want to know it.” For there is always hope for one who realizes her limitations. Assuring that she is sincere in this confession and determination, I am subjoining herewith some information on the subject of feminism from the pen of Mrs. S. H. Guilford. After “Suffragist” has thoroughly digested this expose’ of what is unquestionably the most disgusting and serious phase of the suffrage movement, if her nausea will permit, may we not have her observations on this-to her-new side of the question?
The Prof. Thomas referred to in this article, is a Virginian by birth and a Tennessean by adoption and marriage. He was graduated from the University of Tennessee. His wife is the daughter of the late Dr. James Park, a Presbyterian minister, of Knoxville, for years. Prof. Thomas is a recognized authority on sociology. Since leaving Tennessee he has become inoculated with the suffrage microbes, resulting in what was supposed to be a mild case of suffraphobia, but proving by his recent effusion in Chicago to be a well-developed case of feminism. And still the suffragists patronize and approve him.
Following is Mrs.Guilford’s article:
If the anti-suffragists served no other purpose in the world but to tear the fangs of feminism from the specious serpent of suffrage that is tempting the women of our nation to eat the apple of political discord, that work alone would be worth while.
Many times the writer has thought that some of the antis have been rather severe in criticizing suffragists for feminism, but recent events show not only that all is justified, but that a great deal might be mentioned that is not even fit to print.
It was bad enough when the National American Woman Suffrage association circulated the “Bondwoman.” A pamphlet containing the following terrible doctrine: “The freewoman’s concern is to see to it that she shall be in a position to bear children if she wants them without soliciting maintenance from any man, whoever he may be.” It was worse when the socialist editor of the “Masses,” the most revolutionary magazine in this country, was put on suffrage platforms and his paper awarded a big advertising contract by the suffragists. Countless quotations have been made from suffragists since 1837, which establish beyond all argument their enmity to the family, the home and Christian marriage, and are not worth repeating here, but it remained for feminism in official assembly at one of its largest conventions to reveal absolutely the sort of thing for which it is fighting.
The recent Chicago convention of the suffragists was held mostly to advertise an internal row. Columns upon columns were given to the press to try to make believe that the National Woman Suffrage association is less “militant” than the Congressional union, a thing that even Miss Lucy Burns, who was chairman of the national’s press committee, says is ridiculous. But little was published regarding the speech of Prof W. I. Thomas, of the University of Chicago, who addressed the suffrage dinner at the La Salle hotel that city, on the subject of women’s rights to limit offspring and to become mothers without the formality of marriage. The Chicago Examiner, however, a staunch suffrage paper, said the professor’s speech “came as a thunderbolt in an evening of fine wit.”
The professor’s theories were graphically set forth-we do not care to quote such sentences. But the surprising thing of it all is the sort of comment evoked by his remarks.
Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National Suffrage association, is reported by the Chicago Evening Journal (suffrage) to have said:
“You have to shock the people to make them think. The address has set every woman who heard it thinking, and they are thinking women who will consider both sides of such a proposition. Political emancipation is not the only emancipation. There is a greater freedom which women gain, the freedom of social relations. Women are over-sex-developed and men are responsible for that condition. ***I don’t believe in mother’s love, I believe in mother intelligence.*** I believe Prof. Thomas took the proper place to present those views which have been buried in the minds of men for centuries.”
It is true that Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, a Boston suffragist, who often attempts to apologize for feminism, told the professor that she believed women who had children “were entitled to a home and a husband, too,” but not one woman in that audience, according to all reports, has criticized the doctrine itself, which is essentially a twin sister to that of free love. Mrs. James W. Morrison, who was toast-mistress of the banquet, said:
“I invited Prof. Thomas to come, and I would not have missed his address for a great deal. I do not care to say whether I would have invited him if I had known what his address was going to me. I extended his time in order that he might apply some of the theories he set forth.”
Several suffragists said that “taste” should have made Prof. Thomas present his views at some other time; others that they were too “advanced for this generation,” but one of them thought of the antis, and what such conduct would mean to the present campaign. Mrs. M. J. Reynolds, president of the Political Union of New Jersey, said:
“It was uncalled for and out of place. In a short time the anti-suffragists will be making use of these statements, declaring that free love is the foundation of the ideals of suffragists. It will be used against us, will do untold harm, and blacken us even to those who are friendly to our cause.” Do you notice, however, in any of this a single word against the preachment itself. But this is what the suffragists did about it:
Next morning the convention passed a resolution carefully denying the remotest intention to criticize the professor’s opinions, but thanking the Chicago Tribune “for not exploiting the story.” After the “evening of fine wit,” during which these “advanced” ideas of “free” motherhood were set forth the only principle that seemed to actuate these women was fear for the antis, and a desire to see that the story did not get out. Not one of them has condemned the professor’s proposition per se.
With the suffragists now exploiting Eugene V. Debs as a campaign orator, and selling tickets for his suffrage speeches at their headquarters; with the former secretary of the National Suffrage association now one of the directors in the “Birth Control League,” which is trying to secure legislation authorizing the teaching of race suicide and this shameful incident of “advanced” feminism in Chicago, the serpent of suffrage is stupid, indeed, if it believes it can longer conceal its feminist fangs.
When the antis make it too hot for them a clique will get together, formally indorse marriage and motherhood and deny that they were ever at the Hotel La Salle, perhaps; or some obscure suffragist in Grasshopper, P. Q., will write to the papers to say that Dr. Shaw and the rest of them didn’t say anything of the kind, because she heard a suffragist speaker once and she didn’t say such things.
This is the real menace of woman suffrage-its diabolical alliance with socialism and feminism, which it attempts to conceal whenever it thinks it can fool the people-but flashes openly “with fine wit” whenever it thinks it safe and “if it will not get into the papers.”
Then the awakening. It was “the Negro’s hour,” they said, and the women were deserted on every hand.
Again and again, led by Miss Anthony, women rallied to the task of importuning congress to include women in the proposed extension of the electorate. Again and again the men whose dependence they had been in the anti-slavery crisis failed them utterly. Came at last the fateful ratification of the amendment, and a wording that forever closed that door in the faces of the women who stood without and waited.
There followed days, years, decades during which the principle of self-government was stultified and woman’s dream of political liberty was made the plaything and the fottball (sic.) of one nonchalant congress after another.
But once more the country is ringing with the echoes of women’s part in a great national crisis, the crisis that was determined in favor of Wilsonian democracy on November 7. Democrats profess their gratitude for what women did. Republicans express anticipation of what women may do. Because of her women, the west is conceded a new determinism in national politics. The south revels anomalously in a victory attributed to an institution to which she has long turned a cold shoulder, woman suffrage. The east discovers that it is an outrage to enfranchise women in the west and disbar them elsewhere. And north, south, east and west, it is pointed out that only a federal election law can equalize the present insupportable political situation.
Once more a great opportunity confronts a great political party, the opportunity of being the instrument to insure political recognition to the last dweller within America’s gates. Once more the women stand and wait. Back of them stretches the record of tribute and acknowledgment, of praise and of promise.
In 1867 the republicans forgot.
In 1917 will the democrats remember?
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